Japanese Coaches

Tallorder

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
When Mie Hamada coached Yukina Ota, it was a common practice for TV cameras to keep one lens focused on Hamada, because of the extraordinary emotion and verbal/physical activity she would go through at the boards during the performance.
 

mikaboo

Medalist
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
I had to dig out this thread from the graves. (I just looked up the index:p)

Here’s the first part of a JSports interview that came out today of Yamato Tamura by Akio Sasaki, a retired skater who is aspiring to be a coach.
http://www.jsports.co.jp/press/article/N2016100416372006.html

Akio: After I retired as a competitor, I worked at a motor bike shop then went back to university. Going forward, I want to return to the world of figure skating and try to be something of a use there. One of them is to be in ice shows and I’ve started practicing again. After retirement, I’ve had some regrets about what I should have done. Did you have any of that?
Yamato: I have too many regrets from when I was competing and although I’m now in a position to be teaching, there are times when I’m being taught by my students.
Akio: The competitors nowadays have to train so much.
Yamato: When I was competing, the focus was mainly on the jumps. Nowadays, skaters are judged on spins and steps and the depth of edges also affect the scores so there is no comparison between the time spent on skating between us and them. So it’s vital that a lot of time be spent on taking care of their bodies as well.
Akio: I was the only competitor at the rink where I trained at so I didn’t know what was going on at other rinks but I’ve always wondered why Kansai had good skaters, including Hamada-sensei and Yamato-sensei’s students.
Yamato: The fastest solution is to have one extraordinary skater… which is really difficult. In Kansai’s case, there was Daisuke Takahashi. Then Nobunari Oda came along at around the same time. When there are rivals close by, it’s easier for the younger skaters to follow. I think having a star athlete is the reason for developing other athletes to follow the path. Also, we mustn’t forget the rink environment. Kansai University’s contribution to the skating world is enormous.
Akio: There are so many elements to practice in figure skating now that I think it’s difficult for the coaches. You coach alongside Hamada-sensei. What is the merit of coaching as a team?
Yamato: That I’m able to realize something through someone else’s eyes. We can compensate for each other and confirm what we’ve missed seeing. It means that the skaters will have no escape so it’s hard for them (laughs). Like in baseball where they have a batting coach, a pitching coach and a fielding coach. we can teach what we’re good at as a team.
Akio: Is it just the 2 of you now? You and Hamada-sensei?
Yamato: There are 5 of us now with Cathy Reed, Haruko Okamoto and Yoko Matsuda. Cathy-sensei mainly teaches the choreographies, Okamoto-sensei teaches compulsories, Matsuda-sensei checks to see that the students are skating by the rules.
Akio: Do you and Hamada-sensei divide your tasks according to your specialties?
Yamato: Hamada-sensei can do anything. But when she is away for competitions, I have to make them practice properly so I’m strict during those times. I think it’s an important responsibility of mine.
Akio: Your students are mainly girls so isn’t it hard to instruct them regarding things outside of skating? Like their weight control for example?
Yamato: That is hard. I don’t think it’s ideal that I, as a male, talk to girls about their weights, but I do tell them to be careful. The rest is up to their self awareness. I can’t watch over them for 24 hours so I ask them, “Do you want to eat, or do you want to win?” As athletes, they should want to win. I can tell if they are just saying it, or if they are true to their words by looking at their movements and body lines.


Part 2 will be about 4 young skaters who are coached by Hamada-sensei and Yamato-sensei. I'm guessing they are Satoko, Marin, Yuna and Rika.
 

mikaboo

Medalist
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Yamato Tamura x Akio Sasaki interview Vol. 2 (Vol. 1)
http://www.jsports.co.jp/press/article/N2016100416384606.html

Yamato and Akio talk about Satoko, Marin, Yuna Shiraiwa and Rika Kihira this time.

Akio: Currently amongst your many students, Miyahara senshu (=athlete), Honda senshu, Shiraiwa senshu and Kihira senshu are doing especially well. What are they like?
Yamato: Miyahara is a really good influence on her younger peers. In a way, she is very helpful for us coaches. I say this every time I’m asked, but Miyahara is a really hard worker. If I were to choose one of her talents, it would be that she knew the importance of listening to what other people are saying since she was a child. She hasn’t changed at all, even after she started to get good results. It didn’t stand out for me at first, but after spending some time with her on the ice rink, I realized that she is extremely focused.
A: Is she really that good?
Y: It’s not enough to describe her as just a hard worker. In most cases, people who's had outstanding accomplishments like Ichiro (Suzuki, baseball player), didn’t achieve their successes with their talents alone. They achieved them through working hard on their techniques, perseverance and determination. Miyahara was 7 years old when I first met her and she’s been working hard unchangingly since then. But I have to be careful not to think that all my students are like Miyahara. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s not good to expect the same from everybody.
A: What is Honda senshu like?
Y: She has a really good sense of connection with the music and has an air about her to express it well. She knows instinctively how to move to achieve beautiful lines. I think she can improve further with more sophistication, but she’s not the type to improve if she is forced to do it. But it’s also not good to leave her on her own with it. She’s very talented and she can surprise everyone with a big home run if she hits the ball, but she can’t hit it at every competition so I can’t relax when I watch her compete. I never know what’s going to happen at competitions so it’s not just her. As a coach, there aren’t any competitions that I can relax at.
A: What about Shiraiwa senshu, who is around the same age as Honda senshu?
Y: She has a great sense for jumps. She’s able to compete with the toe loops and loops as a 2nd jump in any combination. She can make adjustments under any situation so she’s able to get points back even if she misses some. She practices jumps a lot to prepare for these emergencies and that is giving her confidence. I can’t give specifics yet, but I like the “manly” side of her very much.
A: I was surprised to see Kihira senshu’s 3A3T. She doesn’t jump lightly like the other female skaters.
Y: She also has a good sense for jumps. Not just the axel jumps but others too so the overall balance is good. She wants to land a 3A in competition this season. It’s only her 1st year as a junior so she has nothing to lose. Unless she’s in a bad condition, she’ll be challenging them without hesitation. (*this interview was held on August 25th)
A: There seems to be a lot of female skaters with the 5 triple jumps at Inter-High School Championships. Even for the top skaters, it’ll be hard to make predictions because 1 jump could change the placements.
Y: The selection meet for ladies’ JGP is amazing now. Skaters who weren’t selected this season could win at the next. That’s how competitive they are. The field of Japanese skaters is deep.
A: It makes me look forward to the future of figure skating in Japan even more.

Vol. 3 will be about thoughts on 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
 

YesWay

四年もかけて&#
Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Thanks Mikaboo! Very interesting interviews with Tamura!

PS. It was a shame Sasaki retired... he was such an entertainer. I'm sure he'll be hugely popular if invited to ice shows...
 

mikaboo

Medalist
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Yamato Tamura x Akio Sasaki interview Vol. 3 (Vol. 1) (Vol. 2)
http://www.jsports.co.jp/press/article/N2016100416401906.html

Akio: You told me that Satoko Miyahara has coaches besides you and Hamada sensei for working on conditioning and expressions. How do you decide about her coaching outside the ice rink? Not just for Miyahara senshu, but for others as well. Do you and Hamada sensei discuss it before deciding?
Yamato: We don’t set up meetings (to decide on such things) but things get decided through normal conversations. But we only think about it when there is someone suitable for the position. We don’t decide on any specifics.
A: There’s not much time until 2018 arrives. How do you plan on coaching towards the Olympics?
I wanted to go to the Olympics so I used to think about where I should be at in the placements at particular times during the 4 years, and what world ranking I should be around. But almost nothing worked out for me.
Y: I don’t think we can get there just by focusing on 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. There’s nothing to do but to go through competitions one after another, year by year. Other than having the ultimate goal, it’s also important to be achieving some smaller goals along the way. Of course getting selected will depend on the rankings and the criteria, but it’s important to increase the level of what you’re able to deliver even when you’re feeling under the weather. You need to be able to show how much you can do, even when you’re not at your best.
A: You have a lot of students from novices to seniors. How do they decide on their programs?
I used to be choreographed by Misao Sato sensei and I’d change my SP and FS every year. My main coach, Akiko Sato sensei, Misao Sato sensei and I would decide on the genre and atmosphere of the music, then Misao sensei would bring some CDs and we’d decide from there.
Y: I think most programs are decided from the music first and there are skaters who find their own music and there are skaters who choose from what the coaches/choreographers bring to them. Some skaters make requests based on the overall images of the music, like something light hearted or some classical music. I only give advice on the layout of the jumps and the course(?).
A: What do you think about the young skaters who are including difficult jumps in their programs?
Y: It depends on the skater, but it’s desirable for girls to have consistent 5 types of triples, 7 in total and boys to have multiple quads. It’s difficult to include them in a program when they’ve only been landed once or twice in practice. If they are included forcefully, the other elements might become affected and the total balance of the program could fall apart. The top skaters also have to think about the effect they’ll have on their current positions so depending on the quality of the jumps, they should consider including them if the consistency rate is 90% in practice. The balance between the ideal and reality is vital. But in Kihira’s case, it’s worth going for the 3A even with a 50% success rate because it’s her first junior competition and this is the time she should be challenging herself.
A: You used to be famous for the unique programs when you were competing. Did you have a particular concept towards performing?
Y: The skaters who are currently competing say things like, they want to perform well in front of the audience, or they want to impress the judges so I don’t want to say this aloud, but to be honest I was thinking at the time, “As long as I find it interesting, I’ll wear what I want and dance to the music I like and it should be nobody else’s business.” (laughs)
A: When I was competing, I used to only think like, “The SP music should be lighthearted and the FS music should be calm/graceful” but now I’m becoming interested in editing music myself. Misao Sato sensei does that so I’ve been thinking that I should aim at being able to do something similar if I want to be a coach.
Y: I’ve tried it a couple of times. There are 2 important things to consider. One is talent. This is pretty important.
A: (laughs)
Y: When I’d listen to the CD and edit out this part and this part, they ended up being totally different. You also need to be able to use the PC properly. I didn’t have either of those skills.
A: Misao Sato sensei used to do things like speed up the tempo during the stsq and add sound effects. When I went to competitions, some music were edited well while some were just chopped and connected randomly.
Y: I learned that I shouldn’t choose or edit music for the top skaters (laughs). I used to do choreography at the beginning of my career but I learned that I have no talent for it. I don’t do either now.
A: So you don’t give skaters advice on performances?
Y: I tell them things like that they should look up here, but I don’t do anything to change the choreographies that the choreographers worked on.

Vol. 4 will be the last of Akio x Yamato’s interview. I don’t know if it’ll continue with someone else.
 

mikaboo

Medalist
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Yamato Tamura x Akio Sasaki interview Vol. 4 (Vol. 1) (Vol. 2) ( Vol. 3)
http://www.jsports.co.jp/press/article/N2016100416412206.html

Akio asks Yamato, who became a coach at a young age, the secret of what coaches need in order to teach the joy and difficulties of figure skating.

Akio: Since you’ve become a coach, what did you find the most different compared to your competitive days?
Yamato: I have a lot of regrets about what I did when I was competing and that will never change. I’ve started to use my eyes and head since I’ve become a coach. My students are doing well right now so they give me confidence but I don’t think that my way of thinking is absolutely the correct way. I’m at an age where people call me “Ossan” (nickname for middle aged men), but I’m still a youngster as a coach. I still have a lot I need to do. The rules are gradually changing as well so I am hanging on somehow by keeping up with those changes.
When Nobunari Oda was still competing, he did the 3T3T and 3A3T and got the 2nd combo nullified but the rules changed again and now the 3A will still count. Back then, he got 0 points for the 3A3T.
A: That became the trigger point for me to be aware and frightened of the difficulty of the new system.
Y: It would be interesting if Oda-san returned to competition! Oda-san was in Rio and away from the ice rink for 3 weeks but he did the 3A and 4T3T recently. He works hard when nobody’s looking.
A: He’s incredible! With the current scoring system, it’s hard to tell how the jumps would be called during the competition and sometimes they are downgraded. I used to wonder if my jumps were accepted as fully rotated or not while I was skating.
Y: I heard that Uno senshu was in that situation at Junior Worlds. Depending on if the call made was 2 revolutions, 3 revolutions or 4 revolutions, it will change what you should do next.
A: As a coach, what do you do when something like that happens?
Y: We wonder about the same thing. The best we can do is prepare so something like that doesn’t happen. If it does happen, the skaters have to remain calm and analyze what kind of a mistake they just made and how they should deal with it when all they want to do is switch their minds off from the mistake and think positively.
A: The level of the men’s field is increasing so much. Even the juniors are doing incredible things so as much as I want to continue skating, a part of me am relieved that I’ve retired. However, I do want to participate in shows and I’ve had invitations from some people too. On the other hand, I also want to become a coach and I’d like to start preparing for that asap. But I think doing both would be difficult. How did you do it?
Y: For me, I wasn’t doing ice shows all throughout the year so when I couldn’t do any on-ice training, I used to do lots of off-ice training. If I didn’t do that, I’d injure myself and I wouldn’t be able to get my weight down. But in my case, I was mostly a coach rather than a show skater. I was only doing Shizuka’s Friend on Ice and Hanyu senshu invited me to his show in 2014. I feel really honored.
A: My feelings to become a coach is strong but I also want to be skating while my body can still move. But as a pro, I wonder if people will come to see me, and will they continue to come to see me?
Y: I don’t think you need to think about whether you’ll attract an audience. That’s what the organizers do. If the organizers think that you can, they’ll invite you and if you go to them and promote yourself, I think you’ll get a positive reply. Rather than that, what I was thinking was to do my best in all the shows. I was training and preparing my ideas and my physical condition as much as I could. Even if a show was just 1 out of the 5 for us, the tickets aren’t cheap for those coming to see it. Depending on where they live, they’d have to pay for transportation and accommodation as well and it could be once in a life time experience for them, their first and last. There was a time when I went into the audience's area to perform and I was able to see their faces well. There were people who looked like they were in high school or university. I wondered if they worked part-time between their studies to be here for this show or there could also be people who borrowed money so they can be here and that stops me from slacking off. I have different thoughts as a coach. In the first year or two after I retired, I was advised many times to skate while I can and start coaching when I can no longer move well. But I thought that way of thinking would be unsatisfactory either way. I thought that to become a coach, I should learn as much as possible when I could. Hamada-sensei told me, “Becoming a coach isn’t as easy as you think. But Arakawa-san is a special person for you so as long as she wishes to invite you, why don’t you do your best (for her shows).” It really depends on the person but you can absorb more while you’re still young and motivated. I also understand that it’s fun to skate. It’s difficult to do both but if you’re prepared for that, you should challenge yourself.
A: Thank you for everything, including your advice, today!


I think this is the end of this series, at least for now. There’s no description of what’s coming next week.
Yamato also has a blog which he updates during the skating season. The first one was uploaded with a photo of him looking proud with Yuna’s silver trophy(?)
http://www.jsports.co.jp/skate/yamato/1617/post-205/
 
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TheGrandSophy

Record Breaker
Joined
Apr 14, 2014
Have to rush out now for a couple of hours, but just wanted to raise a glass to Mihoko Higuchi, the cutest, smiley-est coach of the K&C today. May she never run out of gorgeous nail polish, fluffy coats and knee high boots! We salute you! And may her skaters manage their combos, get their 2A back and gain the polish and expression they respectively need to go far! Yah, Team Fluffy!
 

MaiKatze

La Terre vue du ciel
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
Have to rush out now for a couple of hours, but just wanted to raise a glass to Mihoko Higuchi, the cutest, smiley-est coach of the K&C today. May she never run out of gorgeous nail polish, fluffy coats and knee high boots! We salute you! And may her skaters manage their combos, get their 2A back and gain the polish and expression they respectively need to go far! Yah, Team Fluffy!

Fluffy Higuchi rules. Her smiley face is all I need to feel refreshed!
 

ioanna

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
I found a high quality video of Yamato Tamura's 1998 NHK Trophy free skate set to "The Messiah Will Come Again" by Gary Moore.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrMl_Wa3FYo

1998 was the year Satoko was born so I can imagine seven month old baby Satoko shaking her small fist at the TV screen saying "You suck! Go back to beginner's class!" :biggrin:
 

Biellmann

Match Penalty
Joined
Sep 14, 2016
I have a problem with Kanako's (and shoma's) coaches. They obviously don't really care about the students flaws. And what was that in the k&c at rostelecom? After Kanako's bad result, they were laughing, what was so funny? I don't get this attitude :disapp:
 

MaiKatze

La Terre vue du ciel
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
And you know that they don't care, how? From a few seconds in the KnC when they know everyone is watching and cameras are on them? What do you want them to do? And about Kanako, Kanako is about the most positive skater ever. Some people might think it is a facade, but Kanako and Higuchi are well aware of her limits as a skater. Should they start crying, when the results are expected? They are self-aware which is better than acting all defeated and shocked. Maybe she is still happy to be there, even if it doesn't work for her anymore. She hit her peak a long time ago and wanted to stop skating after Sochi. I doubt we will ever see the Kanako of old again and maybe she just wants to enjoy her last international competitions before she retires. Not everybody needs the strict coach approach.
 

Plumededragon

Medalist
Joined
Feb 12, 2015
And you know that they don't care, how? From a few seconds in the KnC when they know everyone is watching and cameras are on them? What do you want them to do? And about Kanako, Kanako is about the most positive skater ever. Some people might think it is a facade, but Kanako and Higuchi are well aware of her limits as a skater. Should they start crying, when the results are expected? They are self-aware which is better than acting all defeated and shocked. Maybe she is still happy to be there, even if it doesn't work for her anymore. She hit her peak a long time ago and wanted to stop skating after Sochi. I doubt we will ever see the Kanako of old again and maybe she just wants to enjoy her last international competitions before she retires. Not everybody needs the strict coach approach.
That's what I think about Kanako: she wants to skate for herself, to simply enjoy this sport regardless of the results until she retires. I wondered before why she wouldn't "just" retire and do ice shows instead, but if she still wants to enjoy the thrill of competition, then go for it, girl. Other skaters (like Leonova of Russia) also do the same, after all.
 

Hevari

Drivers start your engines!
On the Ice
Joined
Jan 20, 2014
Coach Yamada crushing one of her favorite students (at the Japan Open) in a big bear hug. Off camera, Florent Amodio and Javi are enjoying the hug too and can't help but laugh. https://www.instagram.com/p/BLCi5wKguoq/?tagged=shomauno

Cute)))

By the way... It would be very interesting to find something about coaching process in Japan. It seems to me, that it's very different from coaching in Russia, Ukraine, US.... Different in everuthing from the first steps on ice and so on...
 
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